September 17, 2021

Title: TEN-FOUR!

Constructor: Nate Cardin

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
PERFORMING ARTS (20A: Theater and dance, for example)
BASKETBALL SHOE (25A: Bit of footwear for Layshia Clarendon)
BARGAINING CHIP (42A: Piece of leverage in a negotiation)
EXPIRATION DATE (47A: Time limit printed on a milk carton)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer is a TEN-FOUR! in the sense that the first word has TEN letters, and the second word has FOUR letters.

Things I learned:
  • BASKETBALL SHOE (25A: Bit of footwear for Layshia Clarendon) Since May of this year, Layshia Clarendon has played BASKETBALL with WNBA's Minnesota Lynx. They have also played for WNBA's Indiana Fever, Atlanta Dream, Connecticut Sun, and New York Liberty. Layshia Clarendon has been an advocate for the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in the WNBA, and is part of WNBA's Social Justice Council that was formed in July 2020.
  • ANA (35A: Nava Mau's role on "Generation") Generation (stylized as Genera+ion) is a TV show that premiered on HBO Max in March of this year. The show tells the stories of a group of high school students in Orange County, California. Nava Mau plays the role of ANA, the aunt of Greta, one of the high school students. 
  • SNES (38A: Super Mario World console, for short) SNES stands for Super Nintendo Entertainment System, a gaming console released in the early 1990s.
  • RAE (46A: Singer Corinne Bailey ___) Corrine Bailey RAE is a singer and songwriter from Leeds, England. Her first global hits were "Like a Star," released in 2005, and "Put Your Records On," released in 2006. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • OLAF (17A: Snowman in "Frozen") This clue reminded me of an episode of the NPR podcast, Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me from December 2019. Jennifer Lee, the writer and director of Frozen and Frozen II was interviewed on the show, and answered questions about OLAF's height, and offered an opinion on which Frozen character would be most delicious to eat. 
  • TRIBE (40A: Saint Regis Mohawk, for example) The Saint Regis Mohawk TRIBE live on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation in New York, and the adjoining Akwesasne reserve in Ontario and Quebec in Canada. The United States and Canada sections are separated by the St. Lawrence River, but the TRIBE considers the two areas to be one community.
  • CUMIN (55A: Spice also known as jeera) CUMIN, also known by its Indian name, jeera, is the dried seed of the Cuminum cyminum herb. CUMIN is related to parsley, caraway, and dill. India produces about 70% of the world's CUMIN.
  • SHOW (56A: "A Black Lady Sketch ___") As the name suggests, A Black Lady Sketch SHOW features comedic sketches performed by a cast of Black women. Robin Thede created the TV SHOW for HBO, and is one of the stars of the SHOW, along with Ashley Nicole Black, Gabrielle Dennis, Quinta Brunson, Laci Mosley, and Skye Townsend.

    Geography review:
    • UAE (23A: Abu Dhabi's country) UAE, the United Arab Emirates, is a country on the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE.
    • STL (13D: Dr. Helen Nash's city, for short) In 1949, Dr. Helen Nash was the only woman among the first four Black physicians at Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children's Hospital. Dr. Nash was a pediatrician, and an advocate for children, helping to reduce the premature infant death rate by instituting improvements such as placing each child in a separate bassinet, rather than keeping them in groups, and asking the city to rid junkyards of car batteries that were leaking lead. 
    • ASPEN (29D: Colorado town named for a tree) ASPEN, Colorado is named for the abundance of ASPEN trees in the area. My favorite fun fact about ASPEN trees is that they propagate through their roots, so when you see a grove of ASPEN trees, it is one organism sharing a common root system. In fact, the world's most massive organism is a colony of ASPEN, which guest blogger Mollie Cowger wrote about in August. 
    • HANOI (30D: Capital of Vietnam) HANOI is the second largest city in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam's largest city.
    This puzzle was enjoyable to solve. Fun cluing such as AREN'T (58A: "Looks ___ everything") and BEEN (8D: "Where have you ___ all my life?") And a nice variety of theme answers. When I finished solving, I had not figured out the theme of the puzzle, so I went back to take another look at those theme answers that seemed to have little in common. I stared at the grid for a long time, trying out various theme possibilities. I finally decided to go ahead and begin my blog post, hoping inspiration would hit. And as I typed up the theme answers... "Oh, that's interesting, all of the theme answers end with a FOUR letter word...Aha! Each theme answer begins with a TEN letter word. TEN-FOUR! I get it!" Tricky, but ultimately satisfying. Interestingly, we saw another puzzle with the title of TEN FOUR in June, yet with a different theme. This puzzle was a great way to begin my Friday.